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Main Sites  >>  Sea of Galilee

THE SEA OF GALILEE OR LAKE KINNERET

The Sea of Galilee or Lake Kinneret is Israel’s largest freshwater lake, the lowest freshwater lake on Earth, and the second-lowest lake in the world after the Dead Sea.

The Sea of Galilee lies on an old caravan road that connected Egypt with the northern empires. The Greeks, Hasmoneans, and Romans founded thriving towns and settlements around the lake that included Gadara, Hippos and Tiberias. The first-century historian Josephus was so taken by the region that he wrote, "One may call this place the ambition of Nature." He also wrote about a successful fishing industry at this time, which continues to be true until today.

Much of Jesus’ Teachings took place on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and this has since Byzantine times attracted christian pilgrims to the area to visit. The second Jewish revolt against the Romans (Bar Kokhba's revolt), was extinguished in 135CE. The Romans further retaliated by expelling all the Jews from Jerusalem. The focus of Jewish culture and learning moved to the region of the Kinneret (Galilee), particularly the city of Tiberias. It was in this area that the "Jerusalem Talmud" is thought to have been put together.

The first Kibbutz (cooperative farming village) was built by Jewish pioneers in the area in 1909. ‘Kvutzat Kinneret’ trained new Jewish immigrants how to begin farming and perform other agricultural activities. Decades later, area pioneers founded Kibbutz Degania, famous for their fish. It seems appropriate, then, that the Kinneret/Galilee area became the cradle of culture for the Kibbutz movement and where  two of the most famous Israeli poets were born and/or were buried-Naomi Shemer (born and buried) and ‘Rachel’ (buried).

The towns and cities of Israel receive most of their drinking water from the Sea of Galilee/Kinneret. Israel also supplies water from the lake to the West Bank and to Jordan (under the terms of the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace).

Today, tourism is again very active in the Kinneret/Galilee, the whole region being a popular holiday spot. The many cultural, ancient, and spiritual sites around the lake, especially its main town Tiberias, are visited by millions of local and foreign tourists every year. An important attraction is the site where the Kinneret/Galilee water flows into the Jordan River to which thousands of pilgrims from all over come to be (re-)baptized every year. Another Vibrant attraction is the two thousand year old ‘Jesus’ era boat found buried deep in the Kinneret/Galilee and restored within the last two decades- and is now on show at Kibbutz Ginosaur in its own beautiful Museum.


 

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